Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Lost Dog Ate My Brain

Alright, I'm good and spooked and up, sipping a Diet Coke. That's my current middle-of-the night vice: Diet Coke and the Internet.

Had a doozy of a dream tonight, starting with a chat with my Mom, Paul, and Aunt Donna, a literary analysis type of chat (because who doesn't have those?) about a specific book.

In the book, a man grows old and ultimately dies. He has a rich social circle, but he has a keen desire to pass something on to a direct heir. Unfortunately, his immediate family -especially, his son- go before him. As the story progresses, he winds up with his only "descendant" being the girlfriend of his son, a woman he never approved of, but late in his life, comes to respect and love. She is his posterity.

There are visuals, so I pictured Mom and Paul and Donna, the ice and... Calvados?... in our glasses, the printed words on paper, the old man -can't quite place him, but know him- and his "daughter," who is played by Helen Mirren. I've been a fan of hers since 2010 and that stupid pen fiasco, so don't go all The Queen on me.

Well, Donna wants to know, have I read the short story that is in response to this book?

Okay, so another author wrote a short story that is a commentary on the first book. In the short story, the main character is a funeral director. A large part of his job is talking with the bereaved, being a sounding board for them, listening. Listening and being still, being... nothing.

You know how when you're selling your house you're supposed to leave it mostly empty, nice-looking but with as little of your own life as possible? It's supposed to have enough room for the potential buyer to be able to picture their own life in it, instead of yours. That's this guy. He has so little of himself, he has almost none of himself, so that he can be there for these bereaved individuals. As a result, on his own he is almost not there. Plastic, still, sticks out like a sore thumb visually (black suit, white shirt, black slicked hair, white face - a wax museum young Al Gore -and I like Al Gore!), and can sit in a chair 30 feet from a graveside service and nobody will see him there.

So, he watches. And he figures out that there's something wrong with the characters in the first book. He figures out that he can sit there at the funeral and watch them, and he'll figure out what's wrong. What wasn't said in the book. Something underlying, unspoken, unwritten. Something not quite right.

This is where my dream shifts. Mom and Paul and Donna and me, we are no longer in the dream. Instead, the major character is the author of the short story, but with a narrator. This is like a third story, a story about the writer of the story that was written about the book.

And he is Bill Cameron, author of Lost Dog.

And the short story comes out, and it creates quite a stir, being essentially a whole new take on the original book that was so well-received. Remember Rosencrantz & Guidenstern? It's a little like that.

In the middle of the night, the short story author gets a phonecall from a fan. The fan wants to "interview" him about the story. The line is breaking up quite a bit, but the author, tiredly, is determined to see this through, to play the author role. And the "fan" is a grinning, maniacal, corpse.

Yes, I said corpse. Think back. Didn't I start this post by saying I was spooked?

Flesh rotting on bones, corpse. Grinning. On the phone.

That's it. I don't know what happens next. But I don't think it can be good for Bill.

No comments: